I was surfing a long board out past
the place where you can still smell
Coppertone when a ten foot wave
smashed me down into darkness.
Five times up and five times under,
about to black out when my shoulder
scraped sand and California sun
burned my back again. I never thought
I would re-live this story every day
I practice medicine, a doctor’s life
spent learning to survive tumbling
between reason and panic, wave after
wave of patients pounding you under,
grit in your mouth, salt water up
your nose, catching a quick breath
between cases, reminding yourself
your body knows how to float
when you have no idea which way is up.
Dr. Berlin is Senior Affiliate in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. E-mail: Richard.Berlin@gmail.com. His most recent collection of poetry, PRACTICE, is published by Brick Road Poetry Press.